BHUBANESWAR: After Union minister and senior Congress leader Srikant Jena, it was OJM chief Pyarimohan Mohapatra's turn to drag chief minister Naveen Patnaik into the chit fund scam worth thousands of crores.
While Jena had questioned Naveen's presence alongside tainted Seashore Group chairman-cum-managing director Prashant Das at a company event in Bhubaneswar, Pyari attempted to bring the CM under a cloud by stating that Artha Tatwa (AT) Group chief Pradeep Sethy belongs to Hinjili, which is Naveen's assembly constituency.
Police arrested Sethy on May 12, but Das is on the run. He is also the relative of a former BJD MLA in Ganjam, Mohapatra said at a public rally oragnised by party in Berhampur. "The investigating agency should inquiry into the involvement of the chief minister in the dubious money circulation firm of Sethy," Pyari demanded.
Curiously, despite allegations about involvement of BJD leaders, including ministers, in the mega chit fund fraud, police are yet to question any political leader. Sethy had told mediapersons that certain ministers had benefitted from him, but the government has been mum on the issue. Even arrested state head of Astha International Subhransu Lenka's mother Sushama is a zilla parishad member of BJD in Jagatsinghpur district.
"At least five ministers and eight MLAs of the ruling party are involved in the chit fund scam. The Swabhiman rally at New Delhi is meant to divert attention of the public from the burning issue," Pyari said. Pyari was Naveen's key advisor for over 12 years till they fell apart last year.
He demanded a task force under the control of the judiciary to inquirey into the chit fund scam and expose the names of the ruling party leaders who allegedly took bribes from non-banking financial companies. "This inquiry is necessary as the crime branch, presently investigating the issue, is trying to protect ruling party leaders" he alleged.
Despite the bad weather, thousands of people from across Ganjam district attended the meeting held at a private land after the administration denied permission to OJM to hold the event on a government venue, either at medical college ground or at Khallikote college ground.
"If the rally at New Delhi was organized to mount pressure on the Center to get the special category status for Odisha, why did BJD not take other political parties, though the state assembly had adopted a unanimously resolution on it," the Rajya Sabha member asked. "It's only a political gimmick and organized keeping in mind the next elections," he added.
Pyari hinted OJM would go alone in the next general and state assembly elections next year. "We would prefer to go alone if no political party accepts our proposal to forge an alliance," he told journalists. "I had spoken to BJP leaders including its president Rajnath Singh and former president Nitin Gadkari. It's up to them to accept or reject our proposal," he added.